Freshmen defensive backs say it's 'the little things'

semerson@macon.comOctober 14, 2013 

ATHENS - Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's customary Monday speech to his defense was not quite fire and brimstone.

"It was better than I expected," freshman cornerback Shaq Wiggins said. "I thought he was gonna go buck wild on us."

Perhaps Grantham felt the results speak for themselves, especially in regards to his beleaguered secondary.

Georgia ranks 12th in the SEC in pass defense, yielding 259.3 yards per game. It's 13th in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert 43.7 percent of the time.

The rushing defense ranks third in the SEC, which Wiggins mentioned. So it's fairly obvious where the fault lies, and with such a young group - two true freshmen have started in the secondary in each game thus far - it's not a shock.

Freshman safety Quincy Mauger granted there is still a growing process. He has started the past two games at free safety, and had played strong safety before that.

"It's all about our eye discipline," Mauger said. "As long as you read your key faster, that's how much fast of a player you are. I still have some room to improve on eye discipline, and stuff like that."

"Every player has either had a good game or a bad game at some point in their life," Wiggins said. "And even with the coaches, they've had good games, bad games. So overall as a team we stick together."

Wiggins said there are plays that don't get noticed, such as good coverages that result in sacks. He pointed to one of Ray Drew's sacks on Saturday as one example.

So what are they doing wrong on the plays that produce the opposite result? Secondary coach Scott Lakatos is harping the most on technique and fundamentals, according to Wiggins.

"Probably in his sleep he says it," Wiggins said. "It's the little things. Probably not lined up right, or didn't make a certain call. Something like that. Once we fix those things up, the fans and everybody who's pulling for Georgia is gonna be satisfied."

Gurley and Matthews 'limited' in practice

Star tailback Todd Gurley (sprained ankle) and freshman safety Tray Matthews (hamstring) were listed as limited to running in Monday's practice on UGA's official injury report. The bigger indicators will come Tuesday and Wednesday. Gurley and Matthews have each missed the past two games.

In some new injury news, inside linebacker Ramik Wilson, the team's leading tackler this season, missed practice with a knee bruise.

There was one definite dose of good news: Receiver Jonathan Rumph, who has yet to play this season because of a hamstring, was not listed on the report for the first time in awhile. Rumph, a junior college transfer, would be a nice addition to a depleted receiving corps.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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